UPDATE – June 15, 2021: According to Playground Games’ Mike Brown, the creative director on Forza Horizon 5, performance mode on Xbox Series X and Series S will run at 4K/60 FPS and 1080p/60 FPS, respectively. We don’t know what exactly is being dialed down in order to let the game retain those resolutions while upping the frame rate, but we’ll keep our eyes peeled for those details. The original article follows.
Yesterday, we got some wonderful news in the form of a Forza Horizon 5 announcement, along with a release date for the game. Today, however, news is starting to trickle out that may not please some Xbox owners. Thanks to the official Forza website, we now have some info on how this latest entry in the Horizon series will perform in terms of graphics and frame rate. Forza Horizon 5 is 30 FPS right out of the box while rendering in 4K, and will only do 60 FPS if the game is running in a performance mode — one that we can only presume will drop that resolution to some degree.
And that’s just on the Xbox Series X. On the Xbox Series S, you’re looking at 1080p, 30 FPS. It’s a bit unclear whether that game will have the same performance mode or not (the wording on the Forza website doesn’t make that 100% clear).
Personally — on the Series X side — I think this is fine! If you watch the video above — especially in 4K — it’s tough not to be blown away at the visuals FH5 is pumping out. Those graphics don’t come cheap: they require resources. As good as something like the Xbox Series X is, asking a $500 machine to render a photorealistic world at 4K, 60 FPS is going beyond its capability.
For a more stylized game where some sacrifices can be made? Sure. For this? Probably not. When you consider the fact that there’s at least an option to do 60 FPS in some kind of performance mode, I think that is a fair trade.
I do take issue on behalf of Xbox Series S owners, however. Forza Horizon 5 at 30 FPS on that machine makes sense when topping things out in the graphics department. But yowzah, having that 30 FPS resolution come at 1080p stings quite a bit, because it means there’d be a further resolution drop if the game did indeed have a performance mode. And if it doesn’t? That is Microsoft really doing Series S players dirty. They were promised the same Series experience as X owners, just at 1440p or 1080p instead of 4K. If Microsoft can’t even deliver that — if it can’t get its own developers to hold that line — that makes it okay for everyone else to blow right through it, too. It sets a bad precedent.
I have a feeling there’s going to be quite a bit of chatter around this issue in the coming days, and perhaps Microsoft will offer some clarification (or, even better, work to bring the Series S version of the game on par with the Series X version). Should we get more news on this front, we’ll let you know.